Halloween Horrors: The Sounds of Halloween is a vinyl recording released by A&M Records in 1977. The record features a short, spooky story on Side 1 of the record, while Side 2 presents a collection of somewhat disparate sound effects, most of which fit the theme of Halloween season and all of those wonderful things that go bump in the night.
SIDE 1: THE STORY OF HALLOWEEN HORROR –
A man is driving home on a quiet highway on a dark and stormy Halloween night. He stops at a small gas station and asks the owner if he is heading in the right direction to find an old mansion named “Elm Hall Plantation”. The owner informs the driver that he is indeed headed in the right direction, but advises the man to turn back, stating that the weather is too fierce for driving.
The man ignores the warning and proceeds on his journey. He begins delivering a monologue about inheriting the old antebellum mansion at Elm Hall Plantation. He remarks that a small child died in an accident at the mansion many years prior. Legend has it that the mansion is now haunted by the child’s mother, still sadly wandering the afterlife in search of her long-lost child. The man also remarks that those who claim to have seen the woman or have heard her cries have mysteriously died within a year of doing so. Those ill-fated souls include more than a few of the man’s descendants.
He then starts to recount a tale about “Elizabeth”, the young, beautiful daughter of the plantation’s original owner. Elizabeth fell in love with a soldier who was tragically killed in a war, presumably the Civil War. Soon after her lover’s death, still in her saddened state, Elizabeth readied and mounted her prized horse and took off on a ride. However, the horse would later return home without her. Her body was found floating in the river not long after. Some folks say that her spirit also still haunts the plantation. Some even say that her horse haunts the grounds as well, waiting for its master’s inevitable return.
Despite the torrential rain continuing to pour down, the man finally arrives at his destination. He notices that an upstairs window to the mansion has been left open. For a moment, he also believes that he sees a light shining from within, but convinces himself that it’s just his imagination.
He enters the mansion, the interior still dusty and cob-webbed from the years spent uninhabited. The walls are adorned with numerous paintings of notable vintage, most prominently being a portrait of a beautiful woman, which hangs just above the fireplace. The man believes it to be a painting of Elizabeth. He also starts to believe that the eyes of paintings are watching him.
Before long, the man begins hearing eerie sounds and seeing ghostly visions. These include footsteps in empty hallways, an organ seemingly playing itself, and even a vision of a spectral woman looking for her child. As it’s a fairly short recording (approximately 14 minutes), it doesn’t take long for the man to make a hasty retreat, leaving the mansion and all of its horrors far behind.
There’s one small inconsequential, yet mildly comedic, twist involving the gas station owner at the end of the recording, but the story concludes with much more of a whimper than a bang. While the sound effects are top-notch and fit the story (as well as the overall horror “vibe”) more than adequately, the story fails to deliver any real thrills or chills.
Though the story has a very small cast, the voice acting is commendable. The protagonist is voiced by actor Michael Bell. While Bell has numerous television appearances under his belt, he’s probably best known for his voice work. Those of you near my age will probably recognize his voice as that of multiple Smurfs, including Grouchy, Lazy, and Handy Smurf. Bell also provided the voices for both “Zan” and “Gleek” from the Super Friends cartoons, as well as other memorable characters.
The other notable voice actor in the cast is Peter Cullen, present here as the gas station attendant. While undeniably best known as the voice of Transformer Optimus Prime, Cullen has contributed his voice to notable characters from numerous popular cartoons, such as Rainbow Brite, Voltron, and DuckTales.
SIDE 2: Sound Effects
At 23 minutes, this half of the record in notably longer than the “story” side. That said, if you’ve heard one recorded collection of spooky sound effects, you’ve probably heard them all.
Used copies of Halloween Horrors: The Sounds of Halloween can be found on sites like eBay and Amazon for about $10, with sealed copies running only a few dollars more. The story half of the record provides brief, if ultimately underwhelming, chilling entertainment. The second half of the record is nothing that you haven’t heard before, and is therefore, forgettable.
While Halloween Horrors would probably not be seen as a “shining jewel” in any horror fan’s vinyl collection, the lowered price does make this worth picking up for fans of vintage horror story recordings. Just keep your expectations lowered.